Experimental Evaluation of Smartphone Accelerometer and Low-Cost Dual Frequency GNSS Sensors for Deformation Monitoring

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Smartphone accelerometers and low-cost Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) equipment have faced rapid and important advancement, opening a new door to deformation monitoring applications such as landslide, plate tectonics and structural health monitoring (SHM). The precision potential and operational feasibility of the equipment play an important role in the decision making of campaigning for affordable solutions. This paper focuses on the evaluation of the empirical precision, including (auto)time correlation, of a common smartphone accelerometer (Bosch BMI160) and a low-cost dual frequency GNSS reference-rover pair (u-blox ZED-F9P) set to operate at high rates (50 and 5 Hz, respectively). Additionally, a high-rate (5 Hz) GPS-only baseline-based multipath (MP) correction is proposed for effectively removing a large part of this error and allowing to correctly determine the instrumental noise of the GNSS sensor. Furthermore, the benefit of smartphone-based validation for the tracking of dynamic displacements is addressed. The estimated East-North-Up (ENU) precision values (σ^) of ±7.7, 8.1 and 9.6 mms2 are comparable with the declared precision potential (σ) of the smartphone accelerometer of ±8.8mms2. Furthermore, the acceleration noise shows only mild traces of (auto)correlation. The MP-corrected 3D (ENU) empirical precision values of ±2.6, 3.6 and 6.7 mm were found to be better by 30–40% than the straight-out-of box precision of the GNSS sensor, attesting the usefulness of the MP correction. The GNSS sensors output position information with time correlation of typically tens of seconds. The results indicate exceptional precision potential of these low-power-consuming, small-scale, affordable sensors set to operate at a high-rate over small regions. The smartphone-based dynamic displacement validation shows that GNSS data of a low-cost sensor at a 5 Hz sampling rate can be successfully used for tracking dynamic processes.
Original languageEnglish
Article number7946
Number of pages24
Issue number23
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Deformation monitoring
  • GNSS
  • GPS-based multipath correction
  • Low-cost
  • Measurement precision
  • Noise characterization
  • Smartphone accelerometer


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